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Dublin: 6°C Wednesday 29 September 2021

Farming robots and Marty Morrissey's love island: Everything you need to know about The Ploughing

The traffic, the weather: If you’re heading to Ballintrane we’ve got you covered.

YOU’LL BE HEARING a lot about the National Ploughing Championships in the coming days, as around 300,000 spectators prepare to make their way to the three-day event – taking place this year in Fenagh, Co Carlow. 

Up to 1,700 exhibitors will also be at the site.

Notable guests this year – at separate tents, mind – include Love Island winner Greg O’Shea, and a farming robot called Norman. 

As you may recall, Wednesday’s events at the Ploughing had to be called off last year after half the site blew down overnight. So we’ll start this guide with a look at the weather… 

The Outlook 

Thankfully, the weather outlook for the coming few days is very positive indeed. 

There’ll be a high pressure centred over Ireland and temperatures will reach as high as 19 degrees today. Conditions will improve as the week goes on, in fact, with the mercury reaching as high as 22 degrees on Thursday, according to Met Éireann

Storm Ali hit the site in Screggan, Co Offaly overnight on the Tuesday of the Ploughing last year, leaving the site “a little bit like an earthquake hit”. 

“It was greatly appreciated that we cancelled that Wednesday. In the interest of safety, with flags going everywhere, you wouldn’t know who would get injured,” managing director of the National Ploughing Association Anna May McHugh told our sister site Fora last week.   

When the storm eased, we got in all the voluntary workers and they cleaned up the site and it all looked very well the following day. 

The event, which normally costs €5 million to run, cost €6 million last year because of the additional expenses incurred, McHugh said. 

2664 Storm Ali_90554292 Source: Sam Boal

Getting there 

The site near Fenagh is around 10km to the south-east of Carlow town. 

As always, the advice is to leave early and give yourself plenty of time to get to there.  Expect tailbacks as you approach the area. 

In terms of route restrictions, there will be closures on the N80 until Friday evening and the Junction 5 exits off the M9 are also closed to traffic. 

Gardaí are stressing: don’t follow your sat nav directions, as there will be a traffic plan in place around the site. 

  • Full directions can be found at a dedicated Garda web page here > 

If you’re leaving the car at home, there will be a shuttle bus service from Carlow train station directly to the site. 

Source: GardaPressOffice/YouTube

Getting around

Remember, the Ploughing is huge – as mentioned already, there are over 1,700 stands in the main part of the site.

The actual ploughing competitions take place some distance away from the trade, food and craft stands – so if there are any competitions you’re particularly keen on seeing, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there.

Here’s a link to the site map. 

map Source: NPA

What to expect  

There’ll be a big focus on climate issues and sustainability this year. 

Groups like An Taisce and Friends of the Earth Ireland will have a presence at the event, and on a practical level organisers are stressing the efforts being made to reduce waste. 

Visitors at the site will be presented with a three bin system, and food waste will be converted into electricity by what’s known as an anaerobic digester. 

“Watch out for the clear signage in our catering areas and have a chat with the green bin angels who will be there to give you advice and help you dispose of your waste in the right place,” organisers say. 

Catering stands will be offering reductions of 50 cent off tea or coffee to anyone using a reusable cup – and, according to organisers, zero percent of waste will be going to landfill.

In terms of media coverage, you can also expect to hear a lot about the beef protests and preparations for Brexit over the coming three days. 

shutterstock_1116682028 Source: Shutterstock/dcurzon

What to see  

You may have a few things on your list before you head out the door in the morning, but before you plan your day properly you’re probably better off getting there early, grabbing some breakfast and getting your bearings.

If you want to spend the day assessing farm machinery, by all means that option is available to you. Similarly, if you’d rather spend your time checking out cooking demonstrations or music, you probably won’t be disappointed.

A schedule of daily events is available here

Here are some options for today: 

  • Norman the farming robot‘ is the centrepiece of the British Embassy’s agri-tech display. See him in action at 10am, midday, 2pm and 4pm. (Block 2 Row 20 Stand 442).
  • If you’re starting early, you could always take a look at the National Bread Baking semi finals at the Aldi tent (Row 24, Stand 567) at 9.30am.  
  • And the unlikely duo of Greg O’Shea (below) and Marty Morrissey will be bringing something called Grá Island to the Ploughing as part of a National Dairy Council campaign at 10am. We don’t know much about this, but it’s being billed in the press release as a “special dating contest”. (Block 3, Row 18, Stand 397). 

love-island-2019 Source: Yui Mok

Any final hints or tips?  

  • Buy a walking stick from one of the many vendors dotted around the site. We’re not sure why they’re necessary but you’ll feel left out if you don’t have one. 
  • Try not to leave at rush hour: if you want to beat the traffic either get there early and leave early or simply plan to eat at the site in the evening and hang around till the worst of the traffic has died down. Trust us on this one.

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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